Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cheese Enchiladas

Growing up in Texas, I was lucky to be surrounded by some of the finest Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine in existence.  Once a week our family used to dine out at little Mom and Pop Mexican restaurants (or sometimes just the local El Chico) and I always loved me some cheese enchiladas.

We never had them at home--Mom didn't venture too much beyond tacos with her Mexican cooking, but about 20 years ago I was lucky enough to taste some truly magnificent homemade enchiladas made by a friend's mother-in-law, who happened to be from Mexico.  I had a party coming up, and thought I'd like to try my hand at making them, so I asked her for the recipe.  Not only did she give it to me, but she gave me a demo session at my friend's house.  This made all the difference in the world, for enchiladas are relatively simple when it comes to ingredients, but the technique makes all the difference in the world.

My version is traditional in technique, but ingredient-wise I've tweaked the recipe over the years, adding a store-bought sauce as my base, explained below.  But without a doubt, these babies come out tasting great and are always a hit at our Tex-Mex Christmas Eve dinner we have every year.

The recipe below will make one sheet pan full of enchiladas--you can usually get about 20 on a pan if you roll them tight.  I usually make these for parties, so I will double or sometimes even triple the recipe.

Two codicils:  1) try to get the best corn tortillas you can--grocery store torts, which are laden with preservatives and whatnot, don't cut it.  Use those and your enchies with come out coarse and dry.  I usually get mine from a little mom and pop tortillaria called La Nueva near me.  The best tortillas are soft and pliant and flexible.  2) Go with only Old El Paso brand sauce as your base.  I've tried others, and they don't have the same flavor component that is a signature of my version.  I used to make my own sauce, but even that, while good, lacked what I was tasting in the Old E.P. sauce.  There is some flavor additive in this canned sauce which I love, it is sort of a tangy, savory, buttery flavor that no other canned sauce has, and I can't figure out how to replicate it from scratch.  The Old E.P. sauce is, however, rather bland on its own (other than that flavor I like) so I doctor it up with some spice additions to make it my own.  Oh, and codicil 3) I use the traditional medium, lard, to soften to the tortillas.

Yes, I know, lard is sorta bad for you, but you only really use a small amount and we don't eat these on a daily basis, so you'll be fine.  (and if you use authentic tortillas, they already have a small amount of lard in them anyway)  If you'd rather, use vegetable oil, but they won't taste as good.  But definitely do the softening step.  If you don't, the tortillas will tear when you roll them and they will also soak up too much sauce and become mushy when you bake them.  Lard can be hard to find, but I usually can find it at Mexican or Gourmet grocery stores near me.

Anyhoo, here's how to make them:


20 Fresh-made Corn Tortillas
24 oz Shredded Cheddar
24 oz Shredded Monterrey Jack
1 Small Onion, minced fine
28 oz Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Granulated Garlic
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 small can sliced Black Olives
Lard or Vegetable Oil for softening tortillas


Preheat oven to 300F

I usually set up a sort of assembly line, with the stove in the center, with a small skillet for the lard and a shallow saucier pan for the enchilada sauce.

Heat lard in small skillet to medium hot. (325F if you have a thermometer)

Heat enchilada sauce in low sided sauce pan.  Mix chili powder, garlic, cumin and paprika into enchilada sauce.

Mix cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese in large bowl

I usually mince the onion very fine, as I don't like big chunks of onion in my enchies.  I find the infamous Slap Chop device does a great job mincing the onion quickly, but a plain old knife will work fine.

Here's a pic of my assembly line. Tortillas are stacked at the top, then the lard skillet, then the sauce, then a rolling station with a paper-towel lined plate where I do the rolling.  This is really a two-person job.  One person dips and sauces the tortilla and the second does the rolling.  It can be done by one person, but it's a bit harder.

Another handy tip, when working with the tortillas, you need something to dip them into the hot oil and sauce.  Tongs will work, but they can tear the tortillas if you're not careful.  Our solution--we have these chef-sized chop sticks from The Wok Shop in San Francisco.

They're supposed to be used for stir fry, but we've re-purposed them here for dipping tortillas.  They work great, as you'll see below.

Dip the tortillas, one at a time, in the hot oil for 10 seconds or so to soften.

Next, lift the tortilla out of the oil with the chop-stick (or tongs).  Note how easy it is to get out with the just sort of let it drape over the stick.

Dip the softened tortilla into the red sauce to coat both sides

Place tortilla on flat surface or rolling plate

Grasp about 2 oz of the cheese mixture,

And place it on the tortilla in a little line just off center.  Oh, you probably noticed I'm using food prep gloves for rolling duty.

Yes, they are great for this, as they keep your hands from getting too messy, but mainly they are for protection---the tortillas get quiet warm from the oil and sauce so the gloves keep your hands cool.

Sprinkle a bit of the minced onion to taste along the row of cheese and roll the tortilla up.

Into a tight roll.

Place on large sheet tray.  Repeat, over and over again, arranging the enchies on the pan in two rows.

Repeat until tray is full. Ladle remaining sauce over enchiladas. Take care to coat the edges of each enchie first, as these areas can tend to dry out.  Otherwise just a splash of the sauce over the middle of them--they are already quite saucy from the dipping, and you don't want 'em swimming in the sauce.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese

Place an olive slice on each enchilada.

These are mainly decorative, but they serve the purpose of marking each enchie so you can serve one or two at a time.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 300F

Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to eat.

Until next time,

Adios, Amigos!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Provençal Garlic Soup

August has rolled around, and you know what that means.  Yep, it's soup month here at An Eat'n Man.   This month we decided to get all garlicky with it and present you with this Provençal treat.  Yes, Garlic soup.  Sounds weird, but it tastes great, and that's all that matters.

I'm a sucker for garlic flavor.  Garlic bread, garlic on pasta, garlic on pizza.  If you're like me, this soup is a great way to get your garlic fix.  It's also quick, simple and easy to make.


8 Cups Water
3/4 Cup Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup White Onion
1/3 Cup Celery
1/3 Cup Fennel Bulb
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Cup White Wine
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
6 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Potato
Salt and Pepper to Taste


Start the water boiling in a saucepan.

Now, prep the garlic.  I basically use a full bulb and break it into individual cloves.

Now, peeling all those little cloves can be a chore.  Thankfully, I've got this little device, a garlic peeler.

It's basically just a rubber tube that you insert said garlic clove into...

press down firmly and roll a few times...

and presto, the garlic clove comes out perfectly peeled.  Amazing.

Boil the peeled garlic cloves for five minutes.

This will cut their bite but still leave behind their flavor.

Next, dice your onion,

then your celery and fennel bulb.

Discard the fennel leaves.

Saute the onion, celery and fennel bulb with the olive oil in a large pot.

Drain the garlic and discard the water.

Add the whole garlic cloves to the pot and saute until the veggies are soft.

Add the white wine and deglaze the pan.

Add the chicken stock.

Peel and dice your potato into small cubes.  Add this to the pot.

Make a herb bundle.  Tie up the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf with kitchen twine.

Add it to the pot.

Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove herb bundle and discard it.

Using a stick blender, puree the soup to a fine consistency.

Add heavy cream and stir.

Let warm through.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 21, 2017


I love German food, but you wouldn’t know if from this blog.  I have many different cuisines represented here—lots of French and Italian, a good bit of Asian, with a smattering of others like Greek, Russian, Dutch and even Hungarian, but no German.  Well, that’s a shame, because the Germans have one of the world’s great cuisines.  Sure, it’s not considered as fancy and gourmet as French or romantic like Italian, but it’s great.

German food doesn’t get pretentious.  It doesn’t take itself too serious.  It’s simple and hearty and sort of like good home cooking.  I’ve enjoyed it over the years on a couple of trips I made to Germany, and back here at home, where we’ve got a great German restaurant that’s been around for almost fifty years.  Other than bratwurst on the grill now and then, I don’t cook it a great deal, which is probably the reason for the dearth of German recipes on this blog.  Well, I decided to change that, and do it with one of my favorite German dishes:  Jagerschnitzel.

Jagerschnitzel is a variation of the classic dish wienerschnitzel, which is a veal or pork cutlet that is breaded and fried.  Some say that famed Texan dish Chicken Fried Steak was actually created by German immigrants who substituted beef (plentiful in Texas) for the pork and the rest was history.  Well, jagerschnitzel is basically wienerschnitzel taken a step further, with the addition of a wonderful mushroom sauce.  Jager means ‘hunter’ in German, so perhaps this is the way the hunters ate their wienerschnitzel back in the day.   

Whatever the case jagerschnitzel is delicious and I’ve been making it a lot over the last year, so I’m pretty happy with this version, which is perhaps not 100% trad but it makes up for it in flavor.  Give it a try some time.  Ser Gut!


4 pork loin cutlets
2 eggs
1 tablespoon German mustard
1/4 cut flour
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
4 strips bacon
1 medium onion
8 oz small mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1/3 cup white wine
8 oz consommé
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup peanut oil


Using the flat (non spikey) side of a meat hammer...

pound pork cutlets to 1/4 inch thickness.

Note how much bigger (and flatter) the pounded cutlet is than the unbeaten one.  This will help it fry up nice and quick and get cooked through before the breading burns.

Get some good German mustard:

Whisk eggs and mustard together, then make a dredging station with flour, egg/mustard mixture and bread crumbs in three separate pans.

Dredge cutlets in flour,

then egg mixture,

then bread crumbs.

Place cutlets on tray and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Fry bacon in skillet

Remove bacon and reserve

Chop onion and slice mushrooms.


Saute the onion and mushrooms in the bacon grease until golden and soft.

Mince garlic and add to skillet

Add white wine and simmer until reduced by half

Add consommé and simmer for a minute

Add heavy cream and cook a few minutes more

add butter and stir until melted.

season with salt and pepper to taste.  Keep sauce warm.

In a clean skillet, heat oil to 400F.  Fry cutlets in oil, one or two at at a time...

until golden brown and crisp.  They will cook fast, so just a couple minutes a side.  

Serve sauce over the cutlets.

Here we've served the jagerschnitzel cutlet with some red cabbage and sauerkraut, and of course a hearty beer as well.  You just have to have a beer with German cuisine.

Until next time,